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Fatah, Hamas split widens amid Gaza war

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Fatah appears to be looking at lessons from the past in how it chooses to deal with the Gaza crisis. Twenty-one years ago, an Israeli military jeep accidentally crashed into a crowd in occupied Gaza, killing four Palestinians. Rage and rioting spread to the West Bank and an intifada was born.

While Hamas leaders have called for a third intifada, those calls have not led to an uprising here. The PA has set strict guidelines about where protests are permitted. No rallies are allowed in proximity to Israeli military posts or settlements, virtually eliminating opportunities for angry activists to find themselves "a stone's throw" away from Israeli soldiers.

But Moheeb Awwad, a Fatah official, says many in the young ranks of his movement are losing patience. "At the least, they will leave Fatah and start their own splinter organization. This segment has to find a venue through which it can vent.

"There is social and popular support for our brothers in Gaza," Mr. Awwad says. "But the internal Palestinian conflict has cast its shadow on the response of people in the West Bank, which is lukewarm."

President Abbas has been a vocal opponent of the offensive, calling for an immediate cease-fire, and has taken part in intensifying talks going on in Egypt.

On Wednesday, the Israeli newspaper Haartz reported that Hamas appeared willing to agree to the Egyptian brokered cease-fire deal as United Nations chief Ban Ki Moon arrived in Cairo. "It is intolerable that civilians bear the brunt of this conflict," he said.

On the war front, Israel continued to press into Gaza, hitting some 60 targets. Militants in Lebanon fired rockets into northern Israel for a second time, but no injuries were reported. Israel responded by firing artillery shells into South Lebanon.

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